Reopen Signage board in front of Businesses or store door after covid-19 or coronavirus crisis- Concept of back to business after lockdown.

HSE carrying out COVID hot checks

As the United Kingdom continues to ease restrictions more and more businesses are beginning to re-open and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is working with local authorities to carry out spot checks and inspections on local businesses to make sure they are following the guidelines that have been set out by the government.

With the reopening of the economy, there is going to be a greater chance for COVID to spread, especially with the Indian variant now rising due to its high transmissibility.  To stop the spread, it is critical that businesses don’t become complacent and have COVID-secure measures in place.

All types of businesses, in all areas, are being called and visited by HSE to check the measures they’ve put in place to manage the risk from coronavirus, are in line with the current guidance. This includes businesses that have continued to operate throughout the pandemic, those that have recently reopened and those due to open in the coming weeks.

During spot checks and inspections, the HSE may provide guidance and advice if required, but where businesses aren’t managing the risk, action will be taken.

This can range from the provision of specific advice, issuing enforcement notices and stopping certain work practices until they are made safe. Where businesses fail to comply, this could lead to prosecution.

The COVID-secure measures businesses should have in place include:

  • Risk assessment: every workplace should have a COVID risk assessment. Update it to reflect any changes in legislation or guidance that may impact your work activity.
  • Social distancing: where possible you should keep people two metres apart. If this is not viable, keeping one metre apart with risk mitigation, such as screens, is acceptable.
  • Cleaning, hygiene, and handwashing: keeping your workplace clean reduces the potential for coronavirus to spread. It is a critical part of making and keeping your business COVID-secure.
  • Ventilation and air conditioning: can help reduce the risk of spreading coronavirus.
  • Talk to workers: provide information about providing support and maintaining control measures.
  • Working from home: provide the equipment they need, keep in regular contact, and discuss their wellbeing.
  • Vulnerable workers: talk to staff, provide information and consider the risk to workers who are particularly vulnerable to coronavirus – putting controls in place to reduce that risk.

 

Angela Storey, Director of Transformation and Operational Services at HSE, said: “As we come out of lockdown, we are continuing to work with local authorities to check businesses are COVID-secure and providing guidance and advice where needed.

“Our spot checks and inspections support the cross-government work in helping employers and employees that have worked throughout the pandemic and those returning as lockdown measures ease. All workplaces are in scope for spot checks which mean businesses of any size, in any sector can receive an unannounced check from HSE or an inspection from the local authority, to check they are COVID-secure.

“If you are contacted by the HSE or your local authority, please engage with us. By checking businesses have measures in place to manage the risks, we can benefit the health of local communities as well as support the local and national UK economy.”

Please ensure your workplace is safe by following the guidance on being COVID-secure. Further information on spot checks and inspections is available on the HSE’s website.

Building site manager using covid-19 practices

HSE announce updated construction guidelines

HSE has updated its health and safety guidelines for construction sites safe following the Coronavirus outbreak. The latest update includes all the information you need on cleaning & hygiene, PPE, fit testing and RPE, social distancing and more.

There is also a step-by-step risk assessment guide which you may find extremely helpful if you’re struggling with what you need to incorporate and take into consideration for your site or business.

Cleaning & Hygiene

HSE recommend that you use signs and posters to help your workers to practice good handwashing technique and to remind them to cough/sneeze into an arm and avoid touching their faces.

Handwashing

  • provide handwashing facilities with running water, soap and paper towels
  • provide hand sanitiser at locations in addition to washrooms
  • provide hand sanitiser nearby for people getting in and out of vehicles or handling deliveries, if they are unable to wash their hands

It is also important to make sure that surfaces remain clean at all times, increasing the level and frequency of cleaning and making sure you clean surfaces that may not normally be cleaned – such as a kettle.

Clean equipment frequently

  • Set clear guidance for the use and cleaning of toilets, showers and changing facilities to make sure they are kept clean and social distancing is achieved as much as possible
  • Clean work areas and equipment between uses
  • Frequently clean and disinfect objects and surfaces that are touched regularly
  • If equipment like tools or vehicles are shared then clean them after each use

Find out more about cleaning your workplace to reduce risk from coronavirus (COVID-19).

PPE

Personal protective equipment (PPE) protects the user against health or safety risks at work. It includes different types of respiratory protective equipment (RPE), such as respirators.

Face coverings are not the same as PPE.  A face covering does not protect people from work-related hazardous substances however, they may be marginally beneficial as a precautionary measure against coronavirus – find out more.

PPE for protection against coronavirus usually only necessary when an individual is carrying out certain healthcare activities and so would be less need for people working within a construction environment and there it is recommended to continue using the protective equipment provided and used before the outbreak started.

Space Management:

Spacing the distance between people by 2 meters is an effective way to reduce the spreading of the virus and therefore it is incredibly important that you do what you can to make sure that the correct spacing is being used when working.

Managing your space effectively will enable you to get as many people as it’s safe to do so in a building or on-site and still keep the risk of spreading the virus down.

Entrances and exits

Stagger arrival and departure times so that people do not use entry and exit points at the same time.

Provide handwashing facilities so people can wash their hands when they get into and leave work (provide hand sanitiser where this is not possible).

Social distancing

Keep work areas 2 metres apart and allocate one person only to each work area. If this is not possible, then keep the number of people in each work area as low as possible.

To help workers to social distance you can:

  • use floor tape or paint to mark work areas
  • provide signage to remind people to keep a 2 m distance
  • use screens to create a physical barrier between people
  • have people working side-by-side rather than face-to-face
  • limit movement of people
    • rotating between jobs and equipment
    • using lifts and work vehicles
    • in high-traffic areas like corridors, turnstiles and walkways
    • allow only essential trips within buildings and between sites

For more detail on the guidelines visit HSE’s website and find out more about social distancing in the workplace.

There is also additional information available from the Scottish government’s coronavirus guidance for employers in Scotland and from the Welsh government’s guidance on maintaining physical distance in the workplace.

Breaks and canteens

Stagger break times so that people are not using break rooms, canteens or rest areas at the same time and make sure that if more than one person is using the canteen or rest area that they are remaining 2 meters apart and wipe down surfaces once they are finished.

Using outside areas for breaks and encouraging staff to stay on-site during working hours will also help to reduce the risk of spreading in the workplace and then into general circulation by visiting shops etc.

Providing packaged meals could help to avoid fully opening canteens. Reconfigure seating and tables in welfare areas to maintain spacing and reduce face to face interactions.

For more information as well as a free step by step risk assessment guide, visit the HSEs website by clicking here.

 

workers using personal protective equipment to stay safe from covid-19

Unexpected HSE site checks

The HSE has begun to visit sites across the United Kingdom to make sure that sites are following the correct Covid-19 (Coronavirus) guidelines.

Martin McCabe is Head of Safety, Health, Environment and Quality at HGH Groundworks & Civil Engineering, and a member of the CIOB’s education, qualification, standards and practice board and his site was one of those that was checked.

The site was one that had shut down and recently reopened and the HSE visited the site to make sure they the correct guidelines were in place and being followed by all staff.

Martin McCabe on the unexpected visit:

“The HSE’s visit was unannounced. The inspectors were inducted and went through the site’s coronavirus symptoms checks. They interviewed some of our staff and asked what our COVID-19 checks were. They also enquired about our travel arrangements and then looked at our method statements and risk assessments. They completed a full review of our records of symptom checks and re-inductions. Interestingly, they were still keen to focus on plant use and maintenance. They checked plant operator competence and inspection records.

We received no actions from the visit. It’s down to the dedication of each member of the team, strong supervision has been crucial.

This experience has only reinforced my view that site supervisors are the key to getting things right. They’re the people who drive the culture and behaviours on-site. When you have supervisors who lead by example, it gives you the best chance of success”.

For the full article and more information from Martin on the site visit, please click here.

It is likely that these unannounced checks will continue to happen in the construction industry throughout the UK so please make sure that you are doing all you can to keep your sites safe and compliant.

If you are running on reduced staff and would like help with managing your supply chain and their compliance, please click here and see how our site compliance reports can help you keep on top of your site.

Young women shopping for groceries wearing PPE

HSE update regarding Coronavirus

Yesterday evening HSE released a new statement on their current guidelines for Coronavirus and working across the UK. As of today, 4th April, some industries, such as construction are remaining open with measures in place.

Last night HSE released a joint statement along with TUC and the CBI. The statement is as follows:

This is an extremely worrying time for firms and workers. We know many workers, union reps and employers have questions and concerns about safe working – especially for those continuing to work away from home.

This joint statement between the Health and Safety Executive, the TUC and the CBI is intended to clarify the position. The health and safety of workers remains paramount. Employers are and must continue to provide workers with information about risks to their health and the actions their employers must take.

Social distancing is a key public health measure introduced by Public Health England to reduce the spread of infection. Most employers are going to great lengths to ensure social distancing wherever possible. The HSE, CBI and TUC wish to publicly support these efforts. Firms that can safely stay open and support livelihoods should not be forced to close by misunderstandings about government guidance.

But If it comes to the HSE’s attention that employers are not complying with the relevant Public Health England guidance (including enabling social distancing where it is practical to do so), HSE will consider a range of actions ranging from providing specific advice to employers through to issuing enforcement notices, including prohibition notices.

Where a worker has a genuine concern about health and safety which cannot be resolved through speaking with their employer or trade union, they should contact the relevant enforcement agency – either their local authority, or the HSE through https://www.hse.gov.uk/contact/concerns.htm

For firms who are unsure about the guidance, please visit https://www.hse.gov.uk/news/social-distancing-coronavirus.htm